Zombie Crush in Heyri (2020) ☆☆(2/4): Girls’ tepid fun with zombies

South Korean independent film “Zombie Crush in Heyri” is too mild as a zombie flick while also being not so funny as a comedy film. While I appreciate its earnest attempt to mix two very different genre elements to some degree, the overall result is often woefully tepid and incompetent in many aspects, and that is really a shame considering the game efforts from its three principal actresses. Whenever they are together on the screen, they click fairly well with each other, but the movie does not give them any genuinely funny or scary moment to handle, and I only came to lose my patience more and more during its frustratingly languid 2-hour running time.

After the opening scene involved with a certain silly YouTuber, the movie, which is mainly set in the Heyri Art Village in Paju (It is one of those satellite cities surrounding Seoul, by the way), introduces us its three main female characters: Jin-seon (Gong Min-jung), Hyeon-ah (Lee Min-ji), and Ga-yeon (Park Sojin). Because Jin-seon’s father is going to open a local art center, Jin-seon and her two friends are expected to give a little celebratory performance during the opening ceremony, but the opening ceremony is disrupted by a little protest from one angry local artist, and that certainly displeases many attendees besides Jin-seon’s fathter, though Jin-seon and her two friends are not bothered much in contrast.

Our three young ladies usually hang around together in a cafe run by Ga-yeon, and we get to know a bit about what Ga-yeon has attempted to sell besides coffee. As a self-proclaimed witch, Ga-yeon has made several different kinds of magic potions, and she really believes her magic potions are useful although one of them was recently banned by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. At one point, she attempts to make a new magic potion to sell along with her friends, but, of course, that does not work out that well in the end, though their disastrous failure unintentionally draws a few more customers to the cafe.

It seems to Jin-seon and her two friends that their daily life in the Heyri Art Village are going nowhere except occasional small happenings around them, but then something serious suddenly happens on one day. In the morning, Jin-seon and Hyeon-ah are just spending some time together in Jin-seon’s house shortly after Jin-seon’s parents went outside, but then a series of strange things happen. First, Jin-seon’s family pet dog is disappeared for no apparent reason, and then there comes a public alert message to both of Jin-seon’s and Hyeon-ah’s smartphones. Baffled by the lack of any clear information in that public alert message, Jin-seon decides to go outside for getting to know what the hell is going on, and, of course, it does not take much time for us to recognize several glaring signs of zombie catastrophe.

After belatedly coming to realize their perilous situation, Jin-seon and Hyeon-ah quickly shelter themselves in Jin-seon’s house, and then they try to contact with Ga-yeon, who happens to be stuck in her cafe. As time goes by without much change at all, Jin-seon eventually decides to escape along with her two best friends, and her electric car comes handy as being parked right in front of the house.

After slowly building up its story setting as well as its main characters during its first 30 minutes, the movie seems to get things rolling at last as our three young ladies take a forward step, but, unfortunately, it only comes to spin its wheels instead. While many of its supposedly comic moments are curiously flat and strained, the movie also fails to generate enough tension to engage us, and, above all, those zombies in the film are not so terrifying at all. I understand that this is a low-budget independent film, but directors Jang Hyeon-sang and Kim Joon-sik do not succeed much in overcoming their budgetary limits as often resorting to cheap zombie movie clichés, and this only reminded me again of how much I have been tired of zombie flicks during last several years.

Furthermore, the screenplay by Hwang Ho-gil and Jang Hyeon-sang merely slouches from one narrative spot to another without generating much momentum to hold our attention. Although it gets a bit more interesting later in the story thanks to a little unexpected moment of discovery, the story still falters and stumbles a lot without much humor or suspense, and we do not care much even when it eventually arrives at the climactic part as expected.

The main cast members of the movie do try their best with their respective parts, but I must confess that I could not help but become distracted by the rather stiff delivery of their lines throughout the film, and that made me more aware of how their efforts are not utilized that well at all on the screen. Gong Min-jung, Lee Min-ji, and Park Sojin manage to acquit themselves well thanks to their natural charm and presence, but they still deserve much better in my inconsequential opinion, and the same thing can be said about several other main cast members including Jo Seung-gu and Kim Joon-sik.

In conclusion, “Zombie Crush in Heyri” is another disappointing recent South Korean zombie flick after “#Alive” (2020), and, after being so frustrated and disappointed, my mind is already wondering about how even I could improve it despite the lack of any experience on screenplay writing or filmmaking. I am sort of glad that I did not have to watch it at a movie theater, but, folks, I am still reeling from wasting 2 hours of my life.

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